It’s a long time since I’ve been rejected for anything—a boyfriend, a job—mainly because I haven’t put myself in line for it, being happily married and not looking for work. But last week my manuscript was rejected for the QWC-Hachette Manuscript Development Programme.
I’d sent the first fifty pages off in July, and Friday week ago, an email landed in my inbox thanking me for my entry into the competition, but telling me, very nicely, that I was unsuccessful. They’d had over 200 applications of a very high standard and blah-blah-blah …
I was prepared, given they hadn’t asked for my full manuscript, and it’s not as if you enter these things expecting to be selected. Still, it’s hard not to feel stung, and it’s hard not to take it personally.
My first thought was to delete the email so I didn’t have to see it ever again and I could pretend I’d never entered, that it hadn’t happened. But I didn’t.
Then I tried to tell myself that maybe it was just that I hadn’t formatted my manuscript correctly—there was nothing wrong with my story, I’d just put my name on the pages, or used the wrong size font, or not double-spaced, or …
Next, I took a shower and let how I really felt take over: My story is bad. It’s crap. It’s stupid. It’s boring. No one will want to read it. Why have I wasted my time? It’s not even well-written. I’m not a writer …
I let the water run over me while I had a cry, and by the time I got out, I was ready to hit the keyboard again.
I met up with a few authors a couple of days later and, believe me, there’s no better group of people with whom to commiserate than other writers—they were kind and supportive and encouraging as they understood the pain of rejection.
It’s just a matter of finding the right person at the right time, they said.
But, I was thinking as they were speaking to me, your books are so much better than mine.
I like my story, but what would I know? My tastes aren’t a good barometer—I like Classic FM along with, as my husband keeps reminding me, four other people in Australia. Very few people like the things I like …
I have no guarantee my book will find a home and there’s more than a niggle of self-doubt in the back of my brain—should I rewrite it? Maybe the beginning is too boring? And the end too stupid? Maybe the whole concept is ridiculous?
I’ve pushed those niggles aside for the moment—it’s only rejection #1—and gone back to it. I’ve improved the synopsis as that was dry and boring, and I’ll finish this edit and send it off again.
The thing is, if I keep getting rejections, I can change it.
Or I can write another story.
I’ll keep you posted.